I challenged myself to see something unique in all 7 countries in Central America in one month and my third stop was what everyone called “dangerous” Honduras. So if you are on a similar path and wondering how to Solo female travel to Copan Ruins Honduras or solo (any gender) continue reading as I share everything I know about this trip.
Honduras is a country located in the heart of Central America. It is bordered by Guatemala to the west, El Salvador to the south, Nicaragua to the east, and the Caribbean Sea to the north. It is known for its stunning coral reefs, and diverse landscapes, including mountains, forests, and beaches. Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras, is a popular destination for divers due to its clear waters and abundant marine life. That said, if you are following this travel blog you know I don’t dive so my plan was to see my first-ever Mayan ruins in Copan. (more on that below)
However, Honduras is also considered one of the most dangerous countries in Central America due to high levels of crime, including gang violence and drug trafficking. The Smart Traveler Australian government website and the U.S. State Department both have issued travel advisories warning visitors to exercise increased caution when traveling to Honduras, particularly in urban areas and along the borders with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Despite the risks, Honduras remains a popular destination for adventure travelers and those seeking to experience the rich culture and natural beauty of Central America.
Solo female travel to Copan Ruins Honduras
- Solo female travel to Copan Ruins Honduras
- How to go from Punta Gorda, Belize to Copan Ruins, Honduras?
- Here’s how you can get to Copan Ruins from Puerto Barrios
- Is Honduras safe for solo travelers?
- Which hostels to stay in?
- What to eat?
- Local Customs and Traditions:
- Highlights in Honduras
- 1. Copan Ruins
- 2. Gracias
- 3. The Bay Islands – Roatan Island
- 4. Utila Island
- 5. La Ceiba
- Let me know in the comments:
First off, let’s start with border crossing as I did them solo, and was def a bit nerve-racking but live to tell a tale!
How to go from Punta Gorda, Belize to Copan Ruins, Honduras?
After spending 2 days in Punta Gorda Belize and days of dilemma, in the end, I chose not to be on the open water for too long (going from Punta Gorda to Puerto Cortes over the Ocean and taking the bus to San Pedro Sula (the place everyone warns you about) then changing bus to Copan Ruins). I’m positive if you travel during the day and keep your wits about you that route would be fine (also Putero Cortes could be a starting point to get to the bay islands if you are into diving) but I decided to play it safe and travel through Guatemala again to enter Honduras.
I found two ferry companies that operate between Punta Gorda, Belize, and Puerto Barrios, and the one I used is called Requena’s Charter. They were really easy to deal with and you could also buy the ticket in half BZD, Q, or USD. (Also good communication in Whatsapp)
While in Punta Gorda, Belize go to Requena’s Charter office (they’re on Google Maps), the day before or before 8:30 am in the morning if you want to leave Belize the same day. They sell the boat ticket at the office to Puerto Barrios.
The boat journey takes around 2-3 hours ( we left at 930 and arrived at 11 a.m. ish), depending on the weather conditions, and their schedules can vary. So it’s best to check their company’s website or contact them directly for the latest information on schedules and fares.
For your interest, I paid 81 BZD = 300 Q (Jan 2023) for the boat
Then from Puerto Barrios to Copan Ruins, the bus was 22 USD or about 540 Honduran Lempira.
Here’s how you can get to Copan Ruins from Puerto Barrios
Before they stamp you OUT of Belize at the dock, there is an exit fee that needs to be paid 20 USD but you don’t have to pay if you are there for only 24 hours.
And once you land at the dock of Puerto Barrios, don’t forget to stamp IN at the Guatemala immigration office.
As you walk out of the ferry dock, head left and straight. I remember there was a sign along the way that said “inmigración” which is immigration in Spanish. Have your passport stamped and from there head to the bus stop which is a quick 5mins walk. Apologies as I don’t have the exact immigration office location nor the bus stop address but I am positive if you ask on the boat they should be able to point you in the right direction or at the immigration office for the bus stop.
There are several bus companies that operate on the route from Puerto Barrios to Copan Ruins, including Hedman Alas, Fuente del Norte, and Linea Dorada. And you can buy the bus ticket at the bus stop ticket office. The fare for a one-way ticket can cost around $20 to $35 USD, depending on the bus company and the type of seat you choose.
However, in case the buses are all full don’t worry because, in front of the bus stop, there were many small buses running to Copan ruins also! The bus conductors shout “Copan Ruins” or other destinations so listen carefully.
Realistically the bus journey from Puerto Barrios to Copan ruins takes 8-10 hours so be prepared.
Alternatively, you can also hire a taxi or a private car from Puerto Barrios to Copan Ruins, which can be a more comfortable and convenient option but can also be more expensive.
Another option is, you take a shuttle service that operates from Puerto Barrios to Copan Ruins. The shuttle service usually includes door-to-door transportation, with pickups from your hotel in Puerto Barrios or at the bus stop (pls enquire) and drop-offs at your hotel/hostel in Copan Ruins.
Is Honduras safe for solo travelers?
First of all, let’s establish the understanding of (solo) traveling is brutality! It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. If you are okay with it, you will adapt, and you will survive.
I still remember the night before I was planning to enter Honduras I was rereading my notes on every step I had to take to enter the country, and due to relentless press and negative media about the place, I was feeling anxious about this whole trip.
But the next day on the boat I met a friendly British ex-pat daughter and father, their family living in Belize (they offer volunteering positions in their eco house if you are interested lmk) and she went to school in Honduras! What are the chances hey? If anything I was thinking maybe bumping into fellow travelers but this was even better as they had done this route several times in the past which meant I was with the Pros! How Solo Female Travel to Copan Ruins Honduras begins!
That just goes to show that step number 1 in achieving anything you want is to show up, first.
In addition to that, during my stay in Copan ruins, people at my hostel, locals at the shops, exploring around town and also in buses, I encountered friendly and kind local Hondurans only. Maybe I was lucky? I don’t know but my collective memory of Honduras is a feeling of happiness that I got to visit this country and never once felt in danger.
So yeah unless there is a drastic change in the country’s political situation, pandemic, or some natural disaster it is safe to travel to Honduras. Just remember to apply the general rule of thumb. Such as
- Stay in well-lit areas/ don’t walk down that dark alleyway on your own
- Avoid large crowds
- Don’t carry too much cash or valuables
- Stay aware of your surroundings
- Keep important documents in a locker at the hostel/hotel
- Carry a printed copy of your ID/passport
- Respect the culture
- Don’t argue about religion
- Dress modestly
- Trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid but be cautious.
With proper planning and caution, you can enjoy Solo female travel to Copan Ruins Honduras & the many other attractions that Honduras has to offer.
Which hostels to stay in?
There are several options for accommodation in the area, including hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Here are a few other popular choices including the first one I stayed at:
- Hostel Iguana Azul – This hostel has tons of positive reviews and has backpacker-friendly costs as the other 3.
- Hotel Don Moises – It’s centrally located and run by a family who is very helpful and responsive on WhatsApp.
- Hotel Brisas de Copan – Hot water in the shower, good WiFi, and also close to ruins.
- Berakah B&B- Central Park – Right in the center, rooms with fans and AC, so you can use whichever you prefer
What to eat?
Honduran cuisine is a blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences, and offers a unique taste experience. Some popular dishes include:
- Baleadas: A traditional Honduran dish made with flour tortillas, beans, and cheese.
- Sopa de Caracol: A seafood soup made with conch and coconut milk.
- Tamales: Corn masa stuffed with meat, vegetables, and sometimes cheese, wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed.
- Plato Tipico: A traditional Honduran dish consisting of rice, beans, plantains, and a choice of meat, usually chicken or beef.
- Pastelitos: Fried empanadas filled with meat, beans, or cheese.
Local Customs and Traditions:
Honduras has a unique blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish cultures that have influenced its customs and traditions. Some examples of local customs and traditions in Honduras include:
Honduras is a country full of surprises and adventure. As a solo traveler, you will have the opportunity to explore some of the most breathtaking destinations in Central America, including ancient Mayan ruins, pristine beaches, and lush rainforests.
- Garifuna Culture: The Garifuna people are descendants of West and Central African, Carib, and Arawak people who settled in Honduras in the 18th century. They have their own language, music, and dance traditions that are still practiced today. Some popular Garifuna festivals include the Punta music festival and the Dugu festival.
- Mayan Culture: Honduras is home to many ancient Mayan ruins, such as Copan, that offer insight into the country’s rich history. Mayan traditions and beliefs are still evident in some rural areas of Honduras, including traditional clothing, food, and religious practices.
- Semana Santa: Holy Week or Semana Santa is a week-long religious celebration that takes place in Honduras. This is an important time of the year for Hondurans, and many participate in processions, attend church services, and perform acts of charity.
By incorporating all these elements into my blog, I hope you can gain a better understanding of the local customs, traditions, and cuisine of Honduras, and feel more prepared for your travels.
Highlights in Honduras
1. Copan Ruins
Copan Ruins is an archaeological site located in western Honduras, near the border with Guatemala. The ruins are considered one of the most important Mayan sites in Central America and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are famous for their intricate stone carvings and sculptures that depict the lives and mythology of the ancient Maya civilization.
The site of Copan Ruins dates back to the 5th century AD when the Maya civilization was at its height. The city was an important center of culture, trade, and political power in the region, and it reached its peak between the 7th and 9th centuries. The city was eventually abandoned, and the ruins were hidden by the jungle for centuries until they were rediscovered in the 19th century.
The main structures of Copan Ruins are the Acropolis, the Great Plaza, the Ball Court, and the Hieroglyphic Stairway. The Acropolis is a complex of buildings that served as the political and administrative center of the city. The Great Plaza is a large open space that was used for ceremonies and public gatherings. The Ball Court was used for a traditional Mayan game that was played with a rubber ball, while the Hieroglyphic Stairway is a monumental staircase that has inscriptions of over 1,000 hieroglyphs, making it the longest known Mayan text.
One of the most interesting aspects of Copan Ruins is its intricate stone carvings and sculptures. The carvings depict the rulers of Copan and their families, as well as mythological beings and scenes from everyday life. The sculptures are made of stone and are incredibly detailed, often depicting animals, such as jaguars and birds, and various gods and goddesses.
Visitors to Copan Ruins can explore the site on foot and see the impressive structures and carvings up close. There are also a number of museums and interpretive centers that provide information about the history and culture of the Maya civilization.
If you’re interested in visiting Copan Ruins, there are a few things to keep in mind. The site is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm, and the entrance fee is $15. It is recommended to hire a local guide who can provide insights into the history and culture of the site. The best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from November to April, as the site can be difficult to navigate during the rainy season. Finally, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the site can be hot and tiring to explore.
Out of the 3 days I had, I spent 1 day exploring Copan Ruins, 1 day taking it easy exploring this little town, and the other day going to the mountains.
These places below are recommended as well if you are spending more time in Honduras.
Gracias is a charming colonial town situated in western Honduras, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1536. It served as the capital of Honduras until 1880 and is now renowned for its picturesque cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and historic landmarks. The town is surrounded by verdant mountains and offers stunning views of the countryside.
You can explore attractions such as Gracias Historic Center: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Celaque National Park, Lenca Trail, and the San Cristobal Fort, soak in hot springs and natural pools, and participate in outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, and river rafting. Gracias is also known for its traditional crafts and delicious local cuisine. The friendly and welcoming locals often gather in the central park, where live music and dancing take place.
If you’re coming from Copan Ruins, you can take a bus or hire a taxi for the approximately 4-hour journey. The route will take you through beautiful mountainous landscapes and allow you to experience more of the natural beauty that Honduras has to offer. Overall, Gracias is a must-visit destination that offers a glimpse into Honduras’ rich history, culture, and natural beauty and is well worth the journey from Copan Ruins.
Pls, check with the local bus station or terminal for schedules and fares. In Copan Ruins, the bus station is located on the main street, near the central park. You can also ask your hotel or hostel for assistance in arranging transportation. It’s always a good idea to confirm the schedule and price of the bus beforehand, as schedules can be subject to change and fares may vary depending on the time of day and the type of bus.
3. The Bay Islands – Roatan Island
The Bay Islands are known for their stunning beaches, world-class diving, and laid-back Caribbean vibe. These islands are made up of three main islands – Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja – each with its own unique charm and attractions.
Roatan Island is a paradise for solo travelers who love snorkeling and diving. The island is located in the Caribbean Sea and is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. You can explore the underwater world and swim alongside colorful fish, sea turtles, and even sharks.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy on Roatan Island, including zip-lining, kayaking, and horseback riding. The island is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.
4. Utila Island
Utila Island is another paradise for solo travelers who love water activities. It is located in the Bay Islands and is known for its stunning coral reefs, which are home to a diverse range of marine life. You can go scuba diving, snorkeling, or take a boat tour around the island.
Utila Island is also a great place to relax and unwind. You can enjoy the sun on one of the many beautiful beaches, or take a stroll through the colorful streets of the island’s main town.
5. La Ceiba
La Ceiba, on the other hand, is known for its lively Carnival celebration, which takes place in May and features colorful parades, music, and dancing. The city is also home to several beautiful beaches, including the popular Playa de las Palmas. It is a coastal city located in the northern part of Honduras, known as the eco-tourism capital of Honduras, and is home to some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the country. You can hike through lush rainforests, swim in crystal-clear rivers, and explore hidden waterfalls.
One of the most popular attractions in La Ceiba is Pico Bonito National Park, which is home to over 400 species of birds and a diverse range of flora and fauna. The park offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting.
FYI, The capital city of Honduras is Tegucigalpa, which is located in the southern part of the country. The city is home to some of the best museums and cultural attractions in the country, including the National Museum of Anthropology and History, which showcases the country’s rich history and cultural heritage.
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